Donna dropped a stack of files on Josh’s desk before turning to leave his empty office. The phone rang before she made it to the door.
“Josh Lyman’s Office.” As the voice on the other end of the phone spoke, Donna felt her stomach drop to the floor. She quickly jotted down the information needed and hung up the phone. Donna hadn’t realized she had broken out into a sprint through the bullpen. Before she reached Margaret’s office, she took a deep breath trying to calm the fear rising in her chest.
“I need to see him right away.” Seeing the tears pooling in Donna’s eyes, Margaret quickly rounded the desk and opened Leo’s door.
“Leo.” She stated to draw his attention to Donna.
“What’s wrong?” He stood from behind his desk and waited for Donna to swallow the sob that was threatening her voice.
“Josh is still on the Hill. Boca Raton Community Hospital just called. Mrs. Lyman’s been in a car accident.” The words left Donna’s lips in a hurry. Leo stood for a moment digesting the information. He looked down at his desk and then met Donna’s eyes with a steady gaze.
“Can you go with him? He’ll need you Donna.”
“Okay, I’ll call him in. Go and get both your things together. Margaret will make arrangements for the first flight out. Are you okay to do this, Donna?” Nodding her head, she cleared her throat.
“Yes….yes, I have my cell if you need me. I’ll go to Josh’s first. Are you going to tell him or do you……”
“Go. Come straight here when you get back.”
“Yes sir.” Donna didn’t stop to speak to the confused faces as she rushed back to her desk and grabbed her purse and a few things she knew Josh would want from his desk.
Josh swiped his hand through his hair as he hitched his backpack a little higher on his shoulder. He tapped lightly on the door of Leo’s office.
“Hey, what’s up?” Josh tossed his pack on the floor and took a seat in the visitor’s chair. Before Leo could speak, Donna pushed through the door. Josh looked up startled at the bold intrusion. Leo took a step forward and reached out for Josh’s shoulder. The gesture made Josh’s heart beat a little faster. Then he noticed the look on Donna’s face.
“Josh…” Leo started, but Josh stood and took Donna by the arm and looked into her face.
“Donna, tell me.”
“Your mom’s been in a car accident. She’s alive, Josh, but I don’t know how bad it is. The hospital didn’t give me any more information.” Donna took him by the hand and tried to reassure him with her touch.
“Donna?” Leo wordlessly asked for details.
our flight leaves in an hour. We’ll be there by four.” Josh was numb. The
roaring in his ears muffled the words. He looked at Donna’s worried face then
to Leo’s. He opened his mouth to
speak, but the words wouldn’t come. Donna tugged on his hand and pulled him
toward the door.
”Come on. We’re going to the airport. Our bags are already in the car.”
“Keep me informed Donna.”
Josh hadn’t said much during the ride to the airport. He stood off to the side while Donna checked them in and handled their luggage. He knew she was just as worried as he, but she was strong. Strong for him. Just like before. Josh squeezed his eyes shut at the memory of Donna telling him his father had died. She was the one who softly rubbed his back as he cried. She was the one to offer to make the trip with him. She was the one who called every day just to make sure he had someone to talk to about it. He reached out and blindly sought out her hand. He relaxed his features a little at the touch of her fingers threaded through his in silent strength.
“Come on, we’re boarding.” He followed without comment. She led them to their seats and they sat in silence while they waited for take off. He absently rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. As the plane leveled out after take off, Josh finally allowed himself to look over at Donna. He saw the crease in her forehead and the worry on her face. He squeezed her hand to gain her attention. She looked over and the sight of her clear blue eyes caused his breath to catch in his throat.
“Donna, I’m scared.” He whispered as his eyes glistened with unshed tears.
“She’s going to be fine. I’m sure of it.” She released his hand for a moment as she slipped her arm underneath his.
“What if….” His voice trailed off.
“I’m going to be right here, Joshua.” Josh tightened his grip on her hand and leaned his head against hers.
The cab took them from the airport straight to the hospital. Josh grabbed his suitcase and Donna’s from the back of the cab and ran through the automatic doors. Donna was on his heels hoping the news would be good.
“I’m Josh Lyman. My mother is Amelia Lyman. She was in a car accident.” The words tumbled from his mouth as he leaned over the small wooden information desk. The volunteer nodded and typed a few things into her computer.
“Amelia Lyman is on the third floor. Room 345. Take the first bank of elevators you see. Once on the third floor, turn left.” Her words were spoken to Josh’s back as he and Donna ran for the elevators. He jabbed at the button as he swiped his hand through his hair.
“Josh, please calm down.” Donna reached for his hand and tried to make him stop pushing the ‘up’ button.
“I can’t calm down until I know she’s okay.”
“But if you run into her room like this it’ll only get her upset.” Donna rubbed her hand down his arm and offered him a calming look. He threaded his fingers through hers and nodded. “Please, Joshua.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” The doors of the elevator opened and Josh pulled Donna by the hand onto the car. She pressed the button for the third floor with her free hand and then stepped back next to Josh. She was a little surprised when he released her hand to wrap his arms around her.
“Thank you, Donnatella.”
“Being here. Always being here.”
“I’ll always be here.” She sighed and absorbed his embrace. Before Josh could respond, the doors opened and the two of them adjusted their carry-on bags as they sprinted down the hall.
“Josh! This way!” Donna reached out and tugged on his arm as she read the signs directing visitors to the rooms. Josh followed Donna as she rushed toward the end of the hall. She stopped at the last door on the right and looked at Josh.
“Go ahead.” He urged.
“Maybe you should go in by yourself first.” He reached for her hand again and shook his head.
“I can’t do this alone. What if……” Before Josh could finish his thought, Donna pushed open the door and pulled him through. Josh’s heart sank when he saw the monitors and tubes snaking across the blankets of the bed.
“Josh.” Donna tugged at his hand to gain his attention. It suddenly dawned on him that they were moving past this bed to the one by the window. Donna pushed the curtain back slightly and Josh felt the tears flow from his eyes. A full smile graced his face at the sight before him.
Amelia Lyman lowered the newspaper to her lap and frowned at the two weary people standing at the foot of her hospital bed.
“Who in the world called you?! I told them not to worry you!”
“Mom!” Josh rushed to her side and hugged her tightly. Donna stood at the foot of the bed and smiled.
“Good gracious, you act as if I’ve returned from the dead. What’s wrong with you?” Josh sat on the edge of the bed and wiped a stray tear from his cheek.
“The hospital called my office. All they told Donna was that you were in an accident and that we should come.” Amelia placed her hand on her son’s cheek and smiled.
“I’m so sorry to worry you sweetheart. I’m fine. Well, I’ve broken my ankle and bruised my shoulder, but other than that, I’m just fine.”
“What happened?” Donna finally spoke and Amelia reached out to her. Donna moved to sit on the other side of her bed and held her other hand.
“I was on my way to Bernice’s. I’ve told you about her. She’s the one whose son works on Wall Street. She thinks he hung the moon. I keep telling her my son runs the country.”
“Mom, the accident.”
“Some moron ran a stop sign. Where some of these people learn to drive…..” She shook her head and Josh couldn’t help but laugh, more from relief than anything else.
“I’m just glad you’re going to be okay.”
“The doctor’s said I can go home day after tomorrow. They want to keep me here for observation. I think they just want to make more money. I’m fine.”
“How long will you have to wear this cast?” Donna asked as she looked down at the cast on Amelia’s left leg.
“Six weeks. Which is nothing but an inconvenience. I’ll never be able to tango with this thing.”
“Tango?!” Josh squeaked.
“I told you I started dance lessons last month. Me and some ladies from my health club.”
“I thought you meant ballroom dancing or fox trotting!”
“That’s for old people, Joshua.” She waved her hand at him while he could only stare. “Donna dear, will you look in that cabinet and find Ramando’s number in my wallet? I’ve got to call him and let him know I won’t be at class this week.” Donna grinned at Josh as she stood from the bed.
“Ramando?!” Josh asked incredulously.
“He’s the instructor. What a hunk.” Donna snorted as Josh stood up.
“What?! Did you just use the word ‘hunk’?! Don’t do that!”
“Oh grow up, Joshua.”
“Mom!” Josh whined as Donna found the number for the dance studio in Amelia’s purse.
“I’ll be happy to call them for you Amelia. I’ve got to go call Leo anyway.”
“Oh, thank you sweetheart. You’re such a blessing.” Amelia smiled as Donna stepped out of the room. Once Donna left the room, Amelia smiled over at Josh.
“So how’s Amy?”
“Amy. You’re still dating Amy aren’t you?” Josh shifted uncomfortably.
“Uh, yeah. Yeah.”
“She couldn’t make the trip?” Amelia leveled her gaze on her son.
“We didn’t have time to call her.”
“You and Donna?”
“I see.” Josh stared at his mother for a moment.
“Let me ask you this, if I had really been in a horrible accident, who would you rather have with you? Donna or Amy?”
“Mom.” Josh sighed.
“That’s what I thought.”
“I didn’t answer.”
“You don’t have to. I can see it in your face.”
“Don’t be coy with me, Joshua. I’m your mother.”
“But I don’t know what you…….”
“Why are you doing this to yourself? Is it because of your job? I thought that would have been worked out after re-election. It’s February, what are you still doing with Amy?”
“You’re irritated and on edge every time I call. Wait, I take that back. You’re actually pleasant if I catch you in the office when Donna is there.”
“Open your eyes Josh. Don’t let her slip away.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“I think you know what to do. You’re just afraid of doing it.”
“What about Amy?”
“Do you think she’ll be that broken-hearted?” Josh sat in silence as his mother’s words sank in. He couldn’t imagine Amy even shedding a tear over their relationship. He was still lost in thought when Donna came back into the room.
“Ramando said he’d be by to visit you after class tonight.”
“Oh what a dear. You should stay then. You’ll want to meet him.” Amelia smiled.
“No she doesn’t!” Josh yelled.
“Joshua! Keep your voice down. Poor Mrs. Walker is trying to sleep.”
“Sorry.” Donna gave Josh a confused look before continuing.
“Leo wishes you a fast recovery. Josh, you and I are staying until Wednesday. Leo said for us to make sure your mom gets settled at home once she’s released and that we should call if we need anything.”
“That’s eight days. We can’t just take a week off.”
“Leo says, and I quote, ‘email, phones and various technology render that a moot point. See you when you get back.’ Oh, and the President said for you to take me to Disneyworld.”
“He did not.” Amelia laughed as Donna schooled her features.
“He could have.”
“You children must be tired. Why don’t you go home and rest a little. Change clothes, get something to eat and then come back and visit some more. Do you still have the key I gave you, Josh?”
“Good. Donna, there’s plenty of food in the fridge. You two make yourselves at home.”
“Yes ma’am. We’ll be back in about two hours.”
“That sounds fine.”
Josh and Donna leaned over and kissed Amelia on the cheek before walking slowly down the hall to the elevators. Once in the car, Josh leaned back against the wall and sighed. Donna rubbed her hand down his arm and smiled.
“See, I told you she was fine.” Donna grinned.
“Yeah.” Josh laughed as he pulled Donna’s bag from her shoulder. She looked at him and grinned.
“You’re carrying my bag?”
“Okay.” Donna looped her arm through Josh’s as the two of them walked through the lobby of the hospital.
In thirty minutes, Donna had managed to rent them a car, order dinner and find their way to Josh’s mother’s condo.
“I can’t believe you forgot where it was.” Donna laughed.
“It’s not like I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve been here, what, three times?”
“It’s still sad, Josh. It’s your mother’s home.” Josh handed her the keys as he pulled the bags from the trunk of the convertible that Donna insisted on renting.
“Let’s just get inside so we can eat.”
“Fine.” Donna grinned at him as she opened the door and stepped inside. She looked around and smiled at the brightly decorated apartment. “This is such a nice place Josh.”
“Yeah, I guess. Looks a little too ‘Golden Girls’ to me.”
“It’s Florida. It’s supposed to be like this. But…..what did your mom do with all the furniture from the house in Connecticut?”
“Most of it is still there.”
“I thought she sold the house.” Donna asked as she took her bag from Josh and sat it on the floor next to the door.
“She did.” Donna looked at him and could tell he wasn’t telling her everything.
“She sold it to me.” He was waiting for her to say something else but she just smiled at him as she walked into the living room.
“So, do I get a bedroom or are we bunking up?” Donna joked. Josh’s eyes widened and she could have sworn his face paled a little.
“Uh, we uh…..there are two guest rooms.” He stammered as she walked down the hall in front of him.
“Too bad.” She laughed while Josh swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.
“Well, actually, one is a guestroom. The one on the end is my room. That’s what mom says anyway.” Donna opened the door to the first room and sighed as she placed her bag on the bed.
“This is nice. You shower while I warm the food up and then I’ll take a shower after we eat.”
“Sounds good.” Josh managed to calm his heart rate down once he convinced himself she had been joking about bunking up. He hurried down the hall and tossed his bag on the floor while he slipped his tie from his shirt. Soon he was showered and changed into a pair of jeans and a faded gray ‘Bartlet for America’ t-shirt. He smiled as Donna puttered around his mother’s kitchen re-heating the Italian take-out they had brought home.
“I called the hospital. Amelia wants us to bring a change of clothes for her to the hospital.”
“Okay.” Josh walked up behind her as she leaned over the sink. He leaned over her shoulder and smiled.
“Want some help?” Donna turned her head and found herself inches away from his face.
“I think I’ve got it. How about pouring us something to drink?”
“Sure.” Donna felt her face flush for a moment. Josh was being so……friendly. While Josh filled two cups with ice, his cell phone rang. He pulled it from the clip on his belt and frowned at the caller ID.
“Where are you?” Josh set the glasses on the table and walked out of the kitchen toward the living room.
“Hello to you too, Amy.”
“Where are you?”
“Florida?! What the hell are you doing in Florida?!”
“My mother was in a car accident. We left about three-thirty.”
“Donna and I.”
“My mother’s going to be fine, by the way. Thanks for asking.”
“I’ve got to go. Donna and I are sitting down to dinner.”
“I’ve got to…..”
“What are you doing J?”
“I think you know.” The tone in his voice changed and silence hung on the other end of the phone.
“What about your job?” Amy finally asked.
“What about it?”
“What are people going to think when the Deputy Chief of Staff starts bedding his secretary?” Amy’s voice dripped with venom.
“Don’t even try it. You’ve played hardball with this White House before and lost. Do you really want to see what we do when you go after one of our own?” Josh could hear her thinking about his words as she huffed into the phone.
“Fine. But it’s your loss.”
“If that’s what you’ve got to tell yourself.”
”Look, let’s not make this into something it wasn’t. We both know where this relationship was based.”
“And where’s that?”
“On the standing of my career.” Josh’s voice was calm and exact. Donna couldn’t help but hear his half of the conversation.
“How can you say that?”
“How can you deny it?”
“So that’s it?”
“You’d rather be with…..her?” Josh noted the condescension in her voice.
“That’s not the issue right now. I’m taking care of my mother and Donna’s here to help.”
“Of course she is.” Amy’s voice dripped with sarcasm. Josh could feel the heat rising in his face.
“Look, I’m going to make this very plain. Donna and I are not together…...yet. But if by some chance she is willing to give me a second look, I’m going to pursue it. If I hear one comment, one derogatory remark made from you to the members of the staff, to the press or even a cashier at the Starbucks, you’ll be lucky to find a job as intern supervisor for the House.”
“So this is how it plays out?”
“Goodbye, J.” The sound of Amy’s phone being slammed on the base was Josh’s clue that he didn’t need to respond further. He pressed end on his cell phone and with his back still to the kitchen pressed three on his speed dial. Donna stood motionless in the kitchen trying to process what she had just heard.
“CJ? It’s me.”
“How’s your mom? Leo said it was minor. Is she really okay?”
“Some moron ran a stop sign. She was hit on the rear driver’s side. She’s got a broken ankle, some bruises and strong opinions on my love life.” CJ laughed as Josh sighed into the phone.
“What is it, Josh?”
“I just broke up with Amy.”
“Really?” The joy was evident in CJ’s voice.
“How’d that go?”
“CJ, I swear to God, if you hear one word, one catty comment, I want you to bury her.”
“My pleasure. Why would you think she would be a problem for you?”
“Not me. Donna.”
“Donna? What does Donna have to do with you and Amy?” Josh could tell she knew the answer to her own question.
“Remember that night you and I got drunk? After……” CJ swallowed the lump in her throat and remembered the night Josh was talking about. Simon had been killed two weeks prior and they were both drowning their sorrows in beer.
“Well, you said a lot of things to me that night.”
“I thought you didn’t remember any of that.”
“I lied. I remember everything. So does the offer still stand?” CJ laughed and Josh couldn’t help but smile. She had offered to back him up if he ever decided to pull his head out of his ass and finally admit his feelings for Donna.
“Bet your ass.”
“So have you two…..”
“No. I don’t even think she feels the same way. I just wanted to…..”
“Yeah. Okay. Tell you’re mom we’re thinking about her. The press has asked about her too.”
“I will. Thanks.”
“Anytime, mi amore.” Josh hung up the phone and turned to go into the kitchen again. Donna stood in the doorway staring at him.
“How much of that did you hear?”
“All of it.”
“You worry too much.”
“Uh….” Josh looked at the floor and then back at Donna. Her face split into a large smile and he found himself doing the same.
“Come on, let’s eat.”
Josh held the door for Donna as they walked into Amelia’s hospital room. They each waved politely to the woman sitting up in the first bed before walking past the drawn curtain. Amelia waved and smiled as she continued to talk on the phone.
“Yes sir. I’m fine really. He just walked in, I’ll let you talk to him.” Amelia handed Josh the handset before turning her attention to Donna.
“Good evening, Mr. President.”
“Your mother sounds like she’s doing fine.”
“She is. She’s a tough one.”
“Hard headed, like her son.”
“Donna taking care of things?”
“Yes sir. Is there anything I should……”
“Relax Josh. Take care of your mother. See some of the sights. I know, take Donna to Disney World.”
“Take her to Disney World. That’s an order.”
“But sir?!” Josh glared at his mother who refused to look at him as she looked through the bag of necessities Donna had packed for her.
“See you next Wednesday Joshua!”
Josh hung up the phone and sat in the visitor’s chair beside his mother’s bed.
“You’re good.” Josh regarded his mother.
“What?” Donna looked at the two of them in confusion.
“Donna, how would you like me to take you to Disney World next week?”
“You mean it?”
“But that’s like a four hour drive.” Donna beamed.
“I’m aware of that.” Josh grinned at his mother who was failing to control her delight.
“Are we just spending the day?” Donna asked trying to figure out how much time she would get to spend in each park. Amelia leaned forward and looked at Josh for a moment before turning her attention to Donna.
“Of course not. You’ll have to spend the night. Call my friend Celia when you get home tonight and she can tell you the name of the place she stayed when she took her grandkids last October. The grandchildren just loved it. Grandchildren are such a joy. Or so I hear.”
“Kill me now.” Josh muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing mom. Donna and I will use your computer to look up hotels and stuff.”
Donna smiled at Josh and could barely contain her excitement. Her smile soon faded and Josh looked at her with concern.
“What’s wrong Donnatella?”
“I didn’t pack enough clothes for us for eight days.”
“You and Josh will just have to go shopping.”
“Shut up, dear.” Amelia replied sweetly as Donna laughed.
“I knew you liked Donna best.”
“Well that makes two of us, doesn’t it, Joshua?” Donna blushed while Josh smirked at his mother.
“Yep. So what can we do for you? Are you comfortable enough?” Josh changed the subject quickly, not daring to glance at Donna.
as comfortable as I’m going to get in this bed, but I would love a diet
”I’ll get it. Anything else? A pack of crackers maybe?”
“No thank you dear. That’s all.” Amelia smiled as Donna left the room. Josh tried to hide his delight in his situation by glaring at his mother.
“What do you mean?” Amelia rolled her eyes and tossed a magazine at Josh’s head.
“What happened while you were at my place?”
“The President told me not to worry that CJ would spin everything. What’s CJ spinning, dear?”
“Uh, nothing yet.”
“Did you talk to Amy?”
“How’d that go?”
Josh chuckled as he shook his head.
“How do you think?”
“Oh well, she’ll get over it.”
“Gee, thanks for the ego boost.”
“Honey, the last thing your ego needs is boosting. So what now?”
“I don’t know. We’ll just see how things go.”
“Okay.” They sat in comfortable silence until Donna returned.
It was almost ten thirty before Josh unlocked the door to his mother’s condo. Donna yawned as she walked inside and plopped down on the end of the couch.
“I’m beat.” She said as she pulled off her tennis shoes.
“Me too. Wanna change and watch the news together?” Donna nodded her head as she yawned. She rose from the end of the couch and shuffled to her bedroom. Josh pulled his t-shirt over his head as he walked down the hall toward his room. Donna caught a glimpse of his bare chest and whistled. Josh tossed his shirt at her through her opened door and smirked.
“There’s more where that came from, baby.” Donna erupted with laughter as Josh swaggered down the hall.
“What the hell is going on?” She laughed to herself as she closed the door and started to pull off her clothes.
“Donna!” Donna pulled her tank top over her head and sighed before yelling in response.
“Did you pack me any pajamas?” Donna opened her door and walked the short distance to Josh’s room. Without knocking, she opened the door to find him standing in front of his suitcase in only his boxers.
“I honestly can’t remember. I was in such a hurry, I don’t know what I packed.”
“Uh, Donna. I’m kinda…….”
“What?” Donna looked at him with an innocent expression. Josh just rolled his eyes and grinned.
“Nothing. I guess I’ll just sleep in my boxers.”
“That’s what you usually sleep in.”
“Yeah, well, that’s at home, not at my mother’s with you down the hall. I was trying to display a little tact.”
“Ah. Trying something new. Good. Good.”
“You’re a riot.”
“I’ll be here all week. Please tip the waitresses.” Donna deadpanned as Josh shook his head. He walked across the room and grabbed the remote from the dresser. Flipping the television on he stretched out on his bed and rested his back against the headboard.
“I wonder if Sam and Toby finished the thing.” Seeing that Josh had no intention of leaving his room to watch CNN, Donna crawled onto the comforter beside him and sat cross-legged as they watched TV.
“I’m sure they did.”
“I can’t believe we’ve got a whole week off. I’m not sure if I can stand being away for that long.”
“I’m willing to try.”
“What?” Josh looked at her in shock.
“Josh, I haven’t had a vacation in three years. A real vacation, that is. I’m just grateful the president is making you take me to Disney. I’m borderline giddy.”
“If you’re good, I’ll even take you to Sea World.” Josh smirked as he nudged Donna with his elbow. Donna turned to face him and pressed her finger into his chest.
“Don’t joke about things like that Josh. I’ve never been to Sea World. You’ll get my hopes up.” Before he could think, Josh reached up and brushed her hair behind her ear.
“Well now I’ll have to take you.”
“You mean it?” Donna leaned forward and rested her weight on Josh’s side.
“Yeah, I mean it.” He whispered. Donna looked into his eyes and wondered where things were headed. She hoped they were heading in the direction of Josh’s lips on hers but she didn’t want to get those hopes up either.
“I….I better go to bed.” Donna stammered.
“Yeah, okay.” Josh smiled and nodded his head. Donna pushed herself from the bed and stood.
”Sweet dreams, Donnatella.”
For once in the time that they’ve known each other, Josh woke before Donna. He searched through his mother’s refrigerator for breakfast. He was scrambling eggs when Donna shuffled into the kitchen.
“What are you doing?” Donna asked in amused surprise.
“Cooking us breakfast. What are you doing?”
“Trying to get over the shock.”
“Your hair hasn’t quite made it.” Josh smirked at Donna’s bed head.
“Best offer I’ve had in a while.” Josh mumbled as he turned his attention back to the eggs.
“I heard that.” Donna whispered as she moved past him to the refrigerator.
“Good.” He looked up and smiled.
“What time do you want to go to the hospital?”
“I thought we could leave in about an hour or so.” Donna nodded as she pulled the juice from the shelf and poured two glasses. She smiled over the rim of her glass as Josh pushed down four slices of bread in the toaster.
“Wait ‘till I tell the girls about this. Do you cook often?”
“Not really. Just for the special people.”
“I bet Amy loved this side of you.” Josh turned and held her gaze.
“I never cooked for Amy.” As his words sank in, Donna felt the blush rising in her cheeks.
“Bacon?” Josh changed the subject and returned to the eggs.
“How ‘bout grabbing the paper?” Donna opened the front door and was greeted by an elderly man walking past the door. He waved happily and she returned it in kind. She retrieved the paper from the box by the door and returned to the kitchen. She and Josh ate and read the paper like thousands of other couples do in the morning. Donna finally looked over top of her paper and laughed.
“It’s just funny, that’s all. We spend everyday running around crazy, choking down whatever food we can eat on the run and I wake up this morning in Bizarro World with Bizarro Josh cooking for me and us sitting down to breakfast together, paper in hand.”
“Is that so bad?” Josh asked with a smirk.
“Well, it’s not something I’m used to, that’s for sure. Of course, I wouldn’t mind getting used to it.”
“No. I wouldn’t.” Donna smiled as she took a bite of toast. Josh sipped his juice and turned the page of the paper.
“That’s good to know.” They sat in comfortable silence as they ate. Donna finally took their plates and loaded the dishwasher. Josh helped clear the table and wipe down the counter.
“I’m going to shower.” Donna said over her shoulder as she walked toward her bedroom.
“Yeah, me too.” Josh remarked as he picked up the discarded sections of the paper. Donna stopped and turned to face him with a grin on her face. She opened her mouth to speak and then stopped. She shook her head and laughed.
“Nah, too easy.”
“Go get ready, smart ass.” Josh laughed.
“Hey, how’re you feeling?” Josh asked as he handed his mother a blueberry muffin and a diet Pepsi.
“Better. The doctor said I could go home this afternoon.”
“That’s great!” Donna smiled.
“Did he give you any instructions about your ankle?” Josh asked.
“Just to keep it elevated for the most part and then in a couple of weeks I should be able to get around with the least amount of difficulty.”
“I called about your car. It’s totaled. We’ll go look for a new one on Friday if you’re up to it.”
“I thought you and Donna were going to Disney World? The President said…..”
“We decided to drive up on Sunday and stay through Tuesday night. Then fly out Wednesday afternoon.”
“So I get you for four more days? I’m not sure I know how to act.”
“Funny, mom. Everyone’s a comedian.”
CJ stood at the counter at the Starbucks and tried to decide what she wanted. A familiar face caught her eye and she decided to take the high road.
“Good Morning, Amy.”
“Morning. I don’t know how good it is.”
“As if you don’t know.” Amy scowled.
“Josh is shacked up in Florida with Donna.”
“Shacked up? I’m sorry, did you say ‘shacked up’?”
“Don’t get indignant on me, CJ. I know what’s going on. I’m just surprised it took him this long to give in.”
“It’s was just a matter of time before he gave in to Donna’s constant flirting. She’s been infiltrating his life for years now.” CJ pulled herself to her full height and squared her shoulders.
“Donna is in Josh’s life because she’s the best thing for him. Always has been, always will be. As for Josh giving in, he finally wised up and saw what he should be doing right in his life. As we both know that doesn’t include you. So let me make this perfectly clear, the best thing for you to do is to keep your mouth shut and move on. You really don’t want me to get involved in this.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Call it what you will. I care about Josh and I care about Donna. As of nine o’clock yesterday they had the full weight of the White House behind them. You remember what it’s like to go up against the White House don’t you Amy?” Amy glared at CJ.
“I can see where I stand.”
“It took you long enough.” Amy huffed and stalked out of the café. CJ grinned at the clerk who stood laughing at the whole scene.
“I thought you were gonna slug her.”
“Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind. I’ll have a cappuccino and a banana muffin.”
Josh and Donna visited with Amelia for several hours before she made them both go to the cafeteria for something to eat. In only the way Donna can, she persuaded Josh to have a grilled chicken salad. As they ate, Josh paused to watch her sip on her drink as she watched the various people walk around them.
“What?” She finally asked after a few minutes under his gaze.
“Why are you so good to me?”
“Articulate as usual, Donnatella.” Josh smirked.
“What do you mean, why am I so good to you?”
“You drop everything….again….to help me. And don’t say it’s your job. We both know it’s not.” Donna placed her drink on the table and leaned back in her chair.
“You’re my best friend. I thought you knew that.” Josh looked down at his plate and pushed a few pieces of lettuce around.
“I hoped we still were, but after last summer……I didn’t……”
“Josh.” Donna reached across the table and took his hand. “Even though you drive me crazy, I think you’ll always be my best friend.”
Josh squeezed her hand and looked up from his plate.
“Just friends?” Donna saw the uncertainty in his eyes and she was sure it was mirrored by her own. Donna swallowed hard and leaned forward.
“Why did you break up with Amy?” Taken by surprise at her question Josh searched for the right words.
“She’s not my future Donna. I want more than that. I want….I…..” He swiped his free hand through his hair.
“What do you want Josh?” Donna asked.
“I want someone who doesn’t use me. I want someone who understands me. I want someone who is my best friend.” As he spoke the last few words he rubbed his thumb across her knuckles and stared into her eyes. The clatter of a tray being dropped to the floor caused Donna to jump. Josh released her hand and the moment was broken. Donna took a deep breath and tried to calm the pounding in her chest.
“Do you need any help? Let me help you.”
“Josh, sweetheart, please stop. I’m going to hit you with this crutch if you don’t get out from under foot.”
“Sorry.” Josh stepped away from his mother as she walked with crutches to the door of the hospital room. All the papers had been signed and they were ready to leave. Donna was pulling the car around and Josh was basically worrying his mother to death.
“I’ve done this before, remember? I know how to walk on crutches.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Josh nodded as he recalled the time when he was thirteen and his mother broke her leg skiing. His dad pampered her for months after that.
“Good Bye Mrs. Walker. I’ll be praying for you dear.” Amelia waved as Josh carried her over night bag Donna had packed the day before. They made their way to the door and were greeted by an orderly with a wheel chair.
“Looks like your ride’s here.” Josh smirked.
“Let’s go. I’m ready to get home.” Amelia handed her crutches to Josh and hopped on one leg until she was in a position to sit down in the chair. Josh smiled and walked behind the orderly as he pushed his mother to the elevator.
“Bedroom or Den?” Donna asked as she led the way through the condo as Amelia hobbled behind.
“Den. I’ve been in the bed for two days. I think I’d like to sit up for a while.” Josh grabbed some pillows from the hall closet and waited while Donna helped Amelia into a chair. Once she was seated, he helped her prop her foot up.
“How’s your shoulder? Do you want a pain pill?” Josh asked.
“I’m fine. It’s just nice to sit here.” Donna smiled as Josh worried over his mother.
“Are you hungry? We can order something.” Josh offered as Donna pulled him by the arm toward the couch.
“Sit Josh.” Donna ordered. Josh did as he was told and waited on his mother to answer his question.
“I can cook us something. You don’t need to eat so much take out. You need a home cooked meal.”
“Amelia, you’re not cooking. I can cook for us. I just need to run to the store.”
“Let Josh drive you.”
“You don’t need to stay here alone.” Josh fretted.
“Joshua, I’m in my own home. I can walk and I’m not a threat to myself and others. Now lighten up and drive Donnatella to the store.” Amelia smiled as she scolded Josh. He stood and grabbed his keys from the counter.
“How about I make lemon pepper chicken with mixed vegetables?” Donna asked as she looked through the cupboard for the spices she would need.
“That sounds wonderful dear. Look in the cabinet next to the fridge. That’s where the seasonings are.”
“Found them!” Donna began jotting down some things she wanted to pick up at the store. Josh asked his mother if there was anything she needed. After listing off a few things, they then began to argue over who was going to pay for things. Once Josh won out, he ushered Donna to the car and they made the short drive down the street to the grocery store.
“I’ll give on the PopTarts but there is no way I’m letting you eat Reese’s Cup Cereal. On top of all the caffeine you drink, you’ll be unbearable.” Donna continued to push the cart past the cereals.
“But my mom only has old people bran flake cereal.”
“Get some Cheerios.”
“I hate Cheerios.”
“Nobody hates Cheerios, Josh.”
“I do.” He grumbled as he shuffled down the aisle. He stopped and picked up a box of colorful cereal. Donna started to protest but her face gave her away.
“We’re getting it.”
“Fine.” Donna took the box of Lucky Charms from him and placed them in the cart before turning down another aisle.
“Let’s get a bag of these.”
“You don’t like those.” Josh smiled at the fact that Donna knew he didn’t like Orange Milano cookies.
“They’re Mom’s favorite.”
“Oh, okay.” Donna smiled at how thoughtful Josh was being in regards to his mother. They ambled through the rest of the store picking up the rest of the items on the list and a few other things each of them decided would be nice to have for the week. Josh paid the clerk while Donna pushed the groceries to the car. She was already loading them in the trunk when Josh trotted across the parking lot to help.
“I’ll do this. Here, get in.” Josh left the cart and held Donna’s door for her. He handed her the keys and then placed the rest of the bags in the trunk. Donna smiled. Josh was a different person away from the White House. She wondered if it was his mother’s influence or something else.
Josh had a handful of bags and was on his way up the long front sidewalk toward his mother’s condo. Donna followed with the rest of the bags. Josh was almost to the door when he heard Donna cry out and groceries clatter to the pavement.
“Donna!” Josh sat the bags on the front step and ran to help Donna who was sprawled out on the steps.
“I’m….I’m okay.” Her voice was shaky and Josh could see the tears welling in her eyes. “I caught my toe on the step. I’m o-okay.”
“Can you stand? Here, give me your hand.” Donna untangled herself from the grocery bags and her purse as Josh reached for her hand and helped her stand. She winced as she put her weight on her right leg. Josh looked down at the rip in her jeans and the blood seeping through the material.
“Ow.” Donna hissed under her breath. Josh quickly wrapped his arm around her waist and the other under her knees. He lifted her into his arms and carried her to the front door.
“Josh!” She shrieked at the shock of being carried. Once at the door, he placed her gently on her feet again and held her by the shoulders.
“You okay? Can you stand up?” Donna nodded her head and tried to wipe the tears from her eyes.
“I’m fine. It’s just a scrap. I’m fine.”
“It just startled me, that’s all.” She sniffed and Josh felt something pull at his heart. He hated to see Donna cry. Even more so from being hurt. He opened the front door and ushered her inside.
“Josh, the groceries.” Josh stopped her by the door and placed one hand on the side of her cheek and the other on her arm.
“Don’t move. I’ll get them in the house and then we’re going to look at your knee. I mean it. Don’t move.”
“Donna! What’s wrong?!” Josh had already run back down the walk as Amelia crutched her way through the kitchen.
“I’m fine, really. I tripped on the step.”
“Are you hurt?”
“I just scraped my knees. I’m okay.” Josh pushed the door open and carried most of the bags to the counter.
“Mom! What are you doing up?! Go sit back down. You shouldn’t be up and around on your ankle.”
“But Donna’s hurt.”
“I know! I’ve got a few more bags to get from the yard and then I’ll take care of Donna. Now please sit back down and you,” He pointed to Donna with a stern look on his face. “Don’t move.” Donna had rarely seen Josh this forceful in regard to her. She was entranced. Amelia smiled to herself as she made her way back to the living room. Josh retrieved the other bags and placed them on the kitchen table. He then turned his full attention to Donna.
“Can you walk to the bathroom or do you need me to carry you?”
“I can walk.” Donna hid the sharp pain that shot through her leg as the material of her jeans pulled on the skin. Josh held her by the elbow as he led her through the condo and into his mother’s bathroom.
“Sit.” Josh pointed to the counter as he pulled the things he needed from the medicine cabinet.
“Josh, I’m fine. Really. It’s just…….”
“He pulled the material apart at the tear and looked at her knee.
“Take your pants off.” Josh said as he took a seat on the toilet so he could get a closer look at her knees.
“It’ll hurt like hell if I push the pant legs up over your knees.”
“But Josh…..” Donna’s voice dropped to a whisper. “ Your mother is out there.” Josh made a note that after asking Donna to take off her pants the only objection she had was that his mother was in the next room. Pushing those thoughts aside, he focused on Donna’s injuries.
“Here, I’ll close the door. You’re hurt Donna. I’m not messing around.” At Josh’s concerned yet forceful tone, Donna slid from the counter and unbuttoned her jeans. She slid them past her hips and down her legs, moving slower at the knees. Josh frowned at the blood staining the inside of the material on both her pants legs. She stepped out of the jeans and Josh motioned for her to sit back up on the counter.
“Okay, let’s get this cleaned up.” Donna felt the tears coming back as Josh cleaned the scrapes on both her knees. He gently wiped the blood away and applied some Neosporin. Josh had pulled her foot to his thigh and was concentrating on his task. Donna sniffed again causing Josh to look up.
“I’m sorry.” He soothed as he placed a Band-Aid on each knee.
“I feel so stupid.”
“Why?” Josh wiped a damp cloth around the band-aid to remove some more of the blood.
“I feel like I’m six and you’re making my boo-boo better.” Josh looked up at her and grinned. She held her breath as he leaned forward and placed a gently kiss on the top of the band-aid. Josh steeled his nerves and looked up at Donna’s face. He frowned again at the tears that had escaped her eyes and were glistening against her skin. He stood and found himself between her legs.
“Does it still hurt?” He whispered as he brushed a tear away with his thumb.
“It’s just a little sore. Thank you for kissing it better.” She offered him a shy smile.
“Anytime. Please don’t cry.” She self-consciously sniffed again causing Josh to bring his other hand to her cheek.
“I’m sorry for acting like such a big baby.” Donna sighed as Josh rubbed his thumbs along her cheeks. She leaned into his touch and closed her eyes.
“You’re not a baby.” Josh breathed as he leaned in to gently kiss each eyelid. Donna opened her eyes and tilted her head toward his. Sensing she wasn’t pulling away, Josh leaned in and gently kissed her lips. Soft and tentative, neither daring to push further. They both ended the kiss together and looked into one another’s eyes for any seed of doubt. Seeing Josh smile gave Donna the reassurance she needed. She slipped her arms around his waist and he leaned against her body. Sliding his arms around her shoulders, he held her tightly.
After a few moments in each other’s arms, Donna giggled.
“I’m uh….I’m still in my panties, Josh.” She giggled into his chest.
“And you have no idea how glad I am about that.” Josh smirked. He pulled away from her and laughed.
“Perv.” She laughed.
“Thank you. You sit tight. I’ll get you another pair of jeans.” As Donna touched her fingers to her lips, Josh darted across the hall to Donna’s room.
Donna and Josh were in the kitchen chopping vegetables while Amelia sat at the kitchen table with her foot propped up on one of the chairs.
“Are you feeling better, dear?” Amelia asked Donna.
“Yes ma’am. Josh took care of me.” Josh beamed as Donna smiled over at him while she spoke.
“I’m glad. I’d hate for you to be laid-up too.” The conversation continued while Donna seasoned the chicken and Josh placed the vegetables in the steamer. Once everything was prepared, Donna sighed as she took a seat next to Amelia.
“Let’s hope it’s edible.” She grinned over at Josh. He looked over at her and smiled.
“If you cooked it, I’m sure it’s going to be good.” Amelia smiled at the small blush rising in Donna’s cheeks.
“While that’s cooking, why don’t you two go to the Blockbuster and rent us some DVD’s?” Amelia offered as she watched the glances that were passing between Josh and Donna.
“Sure. Anything in particular?”
“What a surprise.” Josh deadpanned as he stood from the table.
“Donna, my card is in the side pocket of my purse. Would you get it dear?”
“Sure.” Donna hurried through the living room while Josh waited in the kitchen. He stood in silence trying to ignore the look his mother was giving him.
“What?” He finally asked.
“You kissed her didn’t you?” Amelia whispered.
“What?!” Josh loudly whispered in response.
“I thought so. Be good to her Josh. She deserves nothing but happiness.”
“You’re practically radiant, Joshua. I’m your mother. I notice these things.”
“I’m radiant?! That just sounds so gay.”
“Donna’s absolutely beaming.”
“Beaming? That’s a good thing, right?”
“Very good.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Amelia saw Josh smirk.
“I’m da man, mom.” Seeing her son’s ego expand, Amelia smirked at him.
“Yes you are. Let’s hope you act like it.”
“Got it!” Donna called as she walked into the room. Amelia winked at Josh as he took Donna’s hand in his before heading out the door.
Amelia smiled over at Donna as Josh stopped the DVD.
“I liked it.”
“It was sweet.” Donna agreed. Josh groaned in response before standing to remove ‘The Princess Diaries’ from the player.
“I can’t believe I sat through that whole thing. God, I hope no one finds out.”
“You laughed. You liked it. It was sweet.” Donna pointed out as he sat on the floor in front of the television.
“Real men don’t like ‘sweet’ movies.”
“Well women like ‘real sweet’ men.” Donna smirked. Amelia laughed at the look on Josh’s face.
“Give it up, son. We all know you’re just a big teddy bear.”
“I’m a professional political operative, not a teddy bear.” Josh tried to look offended.
“Okay. Whatever you say.” Donna placated.
Amelia stood from her chair and Josh was quickly on his feet to help.
“I’m going to bed.”
“You don’t want to watch the other movie? It’s still early.”
“Early for you. I don’t usually work 18-hour days. You two have fun. If you need anything, you’ll have to come in and wake me up. Before this throbbing gets worse, I’m going to take a pain pill and they make me sleep like the dead.” The wink his mother gave him wasn’t lost on Josh.
“Okay. Goodnight Mom.” Josh kissed her on the cheek.
“Goodnight, Amelia.” Donna smiled.
“Pleasant dreams.” She smiled as she hobbled off to bed.
“Do you want to watch the other movie?” Josh asked from his seat on the floor again.
“Sure. I’m not tired. I don’t think I could force myself to go to sleep at ten o’clock.” Josh started the movie and slid across the floor until his back was leaning against the couch. Donna had discarded her shoes long ago and had stretched out on the couch so her head was resting on the same end of the couch he was leaning on.
“This is a real man’s movie.” Josh smirked as he hit play.
“Ginger said it was pretty good. Lots of action.”
“When did Ginger see ‘Behind Enemy Lines’?”
“She actually went on a date to see it Josh. Of course, that was several months ago when it was still in the theaters.”
“I can’t remember the last movie I saw in a theater.”
“We saw Dial M for Murder.”
“That was with the president. I mean a real theater.”
“Oh. I think my last movie was ‘The Mummy’. The first one. Not the second.”
“I went with you to see that didn’t I?”
“We were in Manchester.”
“That’s right. That was, what two or three years ago?”
“Something like that. We really need to get a social life.” Donna grinned as Josh fast-forwarded through the opening title sequence.
“Stop! You’re missing the beginning.”
“It’s just the credits Donna.”
“So?!” Realizing he wasn’t releasing the button on the remote, Donna leaned over his shoulder and tried to pry it from his hands.
“You’ve gone past the……stop!” She laughed as Josh held the remote from her reach. She pulled on his arm and he switched the remote to his other hand.
“You’re such a butthead!” Donna laughed as Josh waved the remote just out of her reach. He threaded his fingers through her hand and stopped the fast-forward.
“Okay. Okay. I’ll stop. I’ll even rewind it a little.” Donna sighed as she sank into the cushions of the overstuffed sofa. She was lying on her right side with her left arm draped over Josh’s shoulder. He was still holding her hand and she made no effort to argue. They watched the movie in silence for a long while, Josh absently playing with the tips of her fingers.
“Oh my God!” Donna whispered as the images flickered across the screen.
“Damn.” Josh muttered.
“I can’t believe they……” Donna’s words died on her lips as she became engrossed in movie once again.
“I thought you didn’t like action movies?” Josh asked as he leaned his head back to see her face.
“I never said that.”
“Oh.” Josh smiled as Donna tightened her grip on his hand as the action on the screen increased.
“What’s he stopping for?!”
“It’s a movie Donnatella.”
“I’d keep moving. You stop, you’re dead.” Josh chuckled as Donna talked to the screen. He reluctantly released her hand and leaned forward to stretch his back.
“You need to get up off the floor.” Donna stated as she looked around him at the screen.
“Somebody commandeered the couch.” He smirked.
“I’ll share if you promise not to fast-forward through anymore parts.”
“Deal.” Josh slid in behind her on the couch and wrapped his arms around her slender frame. In this current position he found it nearly impossible to concentrate on the movie. His mind wandered as he caught a whiff of her shampoo and the faint smell of her perfume. He found his hand sliding around her waist and resting against her abdomen. He smiled when she shifted against him, molding to his body. They sat silence as Josh watched her face and let his eyes travel down her body. The sound of her horrified gasp brought him back to reality. He looked up and saw the disturbing images on the screen then the look of disgust and horror on Donna’s face.
“Donna?” She rolled over until she was facing him.
“That’s horrible.” He pulled her close and hugged her to his body. Donna slid her leg between his and rested her arm across his hip.
happened? I wasn’t paying attention.” He whispered as he rubbed his hand
down her arm.
”What were you paying attention to?” Donna asked shyly.
“You.” He smiled as Donna lifted her head to meet his gaze. Her breath caught in her throat as Josh leaned forward and placed a kiss on her cheek.
“J-Josh?” She stuttered.
are we doing?”
”You don’t know?” Josh teased.
“I know, but what does it mean?” Josh leaned back to look into her eyes. He could see the uncertainty and fear. He sighed and pulled her to his chest as he rubbed his hand down her back.
“It means that I’ve finally admitted what I want.”
“If that’s okay?”
“You and me together? Together, together?” Josh laughed as Donna squeezed her arms tighter around his waist.
“Tell me if it’s not what you want Donna. I’ll understand.”
“No you won’t.”
But, really…..” Donna cut off his words by capturing his lips.
The tentative kisses they shared a few hours ago had progressed to ones
filled with need and desire. Donna
playfully sucked his lower lips between her teeth and smiled against his mouth
as he groaned. She graciously
opened her mouth to him as he slid his tongue past her teeth.
The pillow they had been resting their heads on was quickly thrown to the
floor as Josh pulled Donna on top of his chest.
He threaded his fingers through her hair as she shifted her weight.
Moaning against his lips, Donna slid her leg up and felt Josh’s growing
desire against her hip. As he bucked his hips at the sensation, her stomach fluttered
and she felt her own need building. Josh
wrapped his arms around her waist and rolled them over until he was resting
firmly between her thighs.
”Donna.” He moaned as he slid his palm across her breast. She arched her back into his touch and kissed a trail down his throat. His mind was spiraling with senses and emotions as he felt Donna’s nails on his back through the material of his t-shirt. Just as he slid his hand beneath her shirt, they both heard a noise coming from his mother’s bedroom.
Both froze. Their heads jerked toward the hall entrance, neither dared to breath. After a minute, Josh released his breath and looked at Donna lying beneath him.
“I think I just flashed back to junior high and getting caught necking on the sofa in the den.” Josh grinned.
“Me too.” Donna whispered as she held onto his arms. They stared at each other for a moment. They had taken the next step. Things had changed between them. Josh leaned down and lightly kissed her nose.
“Do you think we can make this work?”
“I think we’ve been making it work for years.” Josh smiled at Donna’s sparkling blue eyes.
“I think you’re right.”
Amelia smiled down at Josh and Donna as they slept in each other’s arms on the couch. She glanced at the clock and wondered when the last time was that either of them had slept past seven o’clock. She gently brushed her fingers along her son’s forehead causing him so stir. He tightened his hold on Donna and nuzzled her neck without waking. Amelia’s heart leapt in her chest at how much Josh reminded her of Noah. As close as she and Josh were, he was always his father’s son. They had the same stubborn manner, uncontrollable ego and warm brown eyes. Feeling eyes upon her, Donna stirred. She slowly opened her eyes trying to figure out where she was. A smile played at her lips as she stretched and realized that Josh’s arms were still holding her. She looked up and the smile faded as she looked at Josh’s mother.
“Amelia.” Donna tried to pry herself from Josh’s arms but was stopped by Amelia’s hand on her shoulder.
“Shhh, dear. It’s all right. Don’t get up. You both could use the sleep.” Amelia’s warm and loving smile was infectious. Donna nodded her head and snuggled back into Josh’s embrace.
“I’m going to make breakfast. Josh can fuss about that later.”
“I can help.” Donna whispered.
“That’s okay. You’ve got your hands full.” Amelia winked. Relief washed over Donna. She had been so unsure and so nervous as to how his mother would react to this new situation. Apparently she had nothing to worry about.
“What do you mean you’re going out?!”
“Bernice is picking me up and taking me to Cloe’s. It’s bridge night.” Amelia stated as she limped into her bathroom to spray her hair.
“You can’t go.” Josh announced as he sat on the edge of his mother’s bed.
“I beg your pardon?” Josh knew that tone. That was the tone he knew not to mess with. He was toeing the line and one false move would put him over it.
“You’re in no condition to go traipsing around……”
“Traipsing? Joshua, I have a broken ankle. I really can’t traipse.”
“So you’re just gonna schlep off to this Cloe person’s?”
“Don’t whine. It makes you sound less than you are. Besides, I’d think you’d appreciate the time alone with Donna. Take her out to dinner. Maybe to a movie. You know…..a date.” Amelia fixed her son with a look and he rediscovered his mother was a genius.
“Surely you remember how to show a woman a good time.” Amelia rolled her eyes at the prominent smirk that had settled on Josh’s face.
“God give me strength.” The doorbell rang and they heard Donna greet Bernice at the door. “Saved by the bell. I just might have suffocated from all the air being sucked from the room by your ego. No self-esteem problems with you. Oh no.” Josh laughed as he helped his mother to the front door. Amelia slung her purse over her shoulder and grabbed her crutches that were leaning against the dresser.
“Let’s go Bernie! My son is smothering me.” Donna laughed, as Josh looked indignant.
“What time will you be home?” Josh asked.
“Peggy’s going to be there.”
“Midnight at the earliest. One if she’s betting cash.”
“What?! I thought you were playing Bridge.”
“It’s Poker, okay. I just didn’t want to hear you complain.”
“See?” Donna laughed out loud causing Josh to glare at her. Amelia used the distraction to make her way out the door and down the sidewalk. Josh turned to Donna and pouted.
“Laugh it up, Donnatella.”
“Oh grow up Josh. You’re mom is a grown woman who embraces life.” Josh slipped his arms around Donna’s waist and grinned.
“I’d like to embrace a little life right about now.”
“I bet you would.” She teased.
“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
“Like a date?”
“An actual date.”
“I’d love to.”
“Josh Lyman.” Josh answered his cell phone.
“Hey.” Leo’s gruff voice was unmistakable.
“Is everything alright?”
“Fine. How’s Amelia?”
“She’s playing poker with a bunch of blue-haired high rollers over at Cloe’s.”
“Peggy must be playing.”
“I don’t even want to know how you know that.”
“Where are you?” Josh swallowed hard and tried to find a tactful way to tell him he was currently sharing an ice cream cone with his assistant.
“I’m….uh….on a date.”
“Tell Donna ‘hello’ for me.”
“You’re okay with this?”
“CJ’s very good at her job, Josh. She’s already started the spin.”
“Why? Did she get the question?”
“It seems a disgruntled ex-girlfriend of a prominent White House staffer insinuated that the American people may want to know how the Deputy COS and his assistant are spending their tax dollars in Florida.” Donna saw Josh’s jaw clench as she licked the side of the waffle cone they were sharing.
“I’ll bury her.” He growled into the phone.
“No need. CJ’s pretty much made her look like the self-absorbed political power junkie she is. She’s got zero credibility in this town now.”
“What does that mean for me and Donna?”
“Just be glad the press corps loves Donna and has a long memory when it comes to all the two of you went through during your recovery. Plus they hate Amy about as much as I do.”
Josh sighed as he scrubbed his hand through his hair.
“This is important to me Leo.”
“I know son. Don’t worry. Enjoy your vacation. Check in when you can and have fun at Disney World.” He could hear the grin in Leo’s voice and couldn’t help but smile.
“Now get back to your date.”
“Yes sir.” Josh flipped the phone closed and looked at Donna’s worried face.
“CJ got the question.”
“Is this going to be a problem?” Josh leaned forward a little and took a lick of the ice cream before placing a cold sugary kiss on her lips.
“Nope, the press loves you almost as much as I do.”
“Did you just say you loved me?” Donna beamed.
“Caught that, did you?”
“Good.” Josh slung his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close as they continued to walk down the sidewalk.
“That Josh?” The President inquired as he stepped through Leo’s adjoining door.
“He’s on a date.” Leo replied with a slight grin.
“Please tell me it’s with Donna.”
“That’d be a safe bet.” The President sank into the corner of the couch as Leo took a seat by the window.
“He sounded happy. Well, up to the point I told him about Amy.”
“CJ’s handling it?”
“Good, good.” They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“How’s Amelia doing?” Jed asked.
“She’s playing cards.”
“That’s right. It’s Thursday. I’m glad she’s not letting the accident slow her down.”
“As much as I hate to see Amelia hurt, this couldn’t have worked out better.”
“The boy is hard headed.” Jed nodded and smiled.
“So was his old man.” Leo recalled with a grin.
“I hate I never met him.”
“He was a good man. He would have loved Donna.”
“They never met?”
“She spoke to him on the phone a few times during the campaign. He always asked where I found someone to go toe to toe with his son. Too bad I could never take credit for that one.”
“Maybe I should call Josh.” Leo raised an eyebrow at the Presidents comment.
“To make sure his intentions are honorable with Donna.”
“Mr. President.” Leo warned.
“Oh, so you’re the only one that gets to have some fun?”
“You’re a pain in the ass, you know that?”
“Want to listen in on speaker phone?”
Josh held Donna by the hand as they walked slowly up the front walk toward his mother’s condo. They had gone to eat at a small diner. Shared an ice cream cone. Shared several kisses while window-shopping and now were back at home before ten thirty.
“Pretty good first date?” Josh asked as he rubbed his thumb across her knuckles.
“Best first date I’ve had in a while.”
“I aim to please.” Josh smirked.
“That’s good to know.” Donna matched his smirk with one of her own. He leaned in to kiss her and groaned as his cell phone rang.
“Josh Lyman.” He sighed.
“Mr. President?!” Josh straightened his posture and gave the phone his full attention.
“How’s the date going so far?” Donna watched as Josh’s forehead creased and his eyes narrowed.
“ Did you go anywhere nice?” Josh pinched the bridge of his nose and looked up at Donna as he spoke.
ate at a little place downtown and then went for ice cream.”
“That’s what I was going for, sir.”
“Speaking of romance, you are aware that Abbey and I think of you two like family.”
“As such, we feel, well I feel that it’s part of my role as head of the family to take on a fatherly role in certain matters.”
“Oh shit.” Josh sighed and Donna’s eyes widened.
“What was that? Did you say something Josh?” Leo stifled his laughter as the President smiled at the phone.
“Uh…no sir. No, you were saying?”
“Right. I would like to know what your intentions are.”
“Sir?!” Josh squeaked.
are your intentions regarding Donnatella?”
”My intentions?!” Donna held her hand over her mouth trying not to laugh once she finally got the gist of Josh’s conversation.
“Yes. A gentleman should always make his intentions known. How do you feel about Donna?”
“Am I being punished for something, sir? I’m pretty sure I haven’t done anything since we left…….”
“Nonsense, Josh. I’m merely looking out for Donna’s best interests.”
“Shouldn’t her father be the one to do that?”
“Think of me as her father by proxy.”
“I’d rather not.” Josh sighed.
“Tough. Do you love her?”
“We just had our first date. We’re still on our first date!”
“I hope you’re not pressuring her into any type of physical relationship too soon. Donna’s much too special for……”
“Please, please, please can we not have this discussion? With all due respect, I think I’d rather have a root canal than to have you talk about our sex life.”
“Treat her with respect, Joshua. Women are a precious gift. Treat them as such.” Josh sighed and reached for Donna’s hand again.
“Give Donna a hug for me and give my best regards to Amelia.”
“Good night, Josh.”
“Goodnight, Mr. President.” Josh closed his cell phone and dropped his chin to his chest.
“What did he say?” Donna asked with a giggle.
“He said I shouldn’t pressure you for sex.”
“The president felt he should be your father-by-proxy.”
“So we’re not going to have sex?!” The words left Donna’s mouth before she could stop them. “I mean…there’s no pressure…..wait….I……hell, nevermind.” Donna looked off into the distance as the blush stained her cheeks. Josh pulled her into a hug and kissed her temple.
“You know my mom won’t be home for another couple of hours.”
“What about what the President said?”
“He’s not here and I don’t plan on ever discussing our sex-life with him again.”
“That’s good to know.” Josh pressed Donna up against the front door and kissed her. As their passion grew, Donna pushed Josh against his chest.
“We should go inside.”
“Yeah, that sounds good.” He kissed the side of her neck as she smiled.
“So open the door.”
“Right. Right, the door.” Josh fumbled for the keys and finally managed to unlock the door. Pulling Donna by the hand, he made a beeline for his bedroom.
Josh closed the door to his bedroom as quietly as he could so he wouldn’t wake Donna. As he turned around, he jumped about four feet in the air at the sight of his mother’s smiling face.
“Mom!” He whispered.
“Joshua.” She tried to hide her delight in her son’s discomfort but knew she was failing miserably.
“Hungry? Come on. Let’s have a bowl of cereal.” Josh followed behind his mother as they made their way to the kitchen.
“You’re going to yell at me aren’t you?” Josh asked as he pulled the box of Lucky Charms he and Donna bought from the cabinet.
“Why would you think that?”
“We’re not rushing things.” Josh stated as if he knew what his mother would say.
“That’s an understatement. If you had taken things any slower between the two of you, I wouldn’t have lived to see the day!”
“Look Josh, you’re a grown man. Act like it.”
“Oh, I am.”
“Make Donna happy. I can see she makes you happy.”
“She does.” Josh responded.
“I guess you and Donna will be sharing your room from now on?” Amelia grinned.
“I doubt Donna will do that. She’s going to have a nutty once she finds out you know what happened between us.”
“Talk to her. Let her know how you feel. To be honest Joshua, I couldn’t be happier. All I want is to see you happy. Donna does that. What more could I want?” Josh smiled at his mother before she continued. “Well, grandchildren would be good. Lots and lots of grandchildren.”
“Of course.” Josh chuckled as he spooned some cereal in his mouth.
Donna pulled her t-shirt over her head and grabbed a pair of Josh’s boxers from the dresser. She quietly opened the door and saw the light on in the kitchen. She stepped quietly through the condo before smiling at Josh as he leaned against the counter eating a bowl of cereal. Her expression changed to shock and embarrassment once she saw Josh’s mother sitting at the kitchen table. Josh held out his hand to her and she reluctantly stood by his side.
“Stop freaking out Donna. I’m wise to the ways of love. I just want you and Joshua to be happy.”
“I just don’t want you to think that we disrespected your home or……”
“Donna, honey, if you were both in high school, I’d be shocked and appalled. You’re adults. Don’t worry about it.” Josh grinned as he offered Donna a spoonful of his cereal. She shook her head and pulled a bowl from the cabinet.
“How’d you do at the card game?” Donna asked once she calmed the pounding in her chest.
“I’m up sixty dollars.” Amelia smiled.
“Maybe we should invite Peggy to sit in on the games with the President.” Josh laughed as Donna leaned against his side.
“You still wouldn’t break even.” Donna commented before looking over at Josh and smiling.
“Between you and Mom, I’m going to develop and inferiority complex.” Amelia and Donna rolled their eyes and groaned.
“With your ego, I’m surprised you can even say the words.”
“True.” Josh smirked as he leaned over and kissed Donna on the cheek.
Amelia smiled as Donna tucked her head. She rose from her seat and secured the crutches under her arms.
“I’m going to bed. See you in the morning.”
Amelia.” Josh placed his bowl in
the sink and leaned his arms on either side of Donna as she reclined against the
”Ready to go back to bed?” Josh asked as he nuzzled her neck.
“I’m ready to go back to MY bed.” Donna said sternly.
“Not a chance. Mom even said we could share my room for the rest of the visit. Besides, it took five years and….” Josh looked at the calendar behind Donna’s head and grinned, “….four days to get you in my bed, I’m not about to give you up.” Donna kissed him and sighed as his hands slid up her sides to cup her face.
“How can a girl resist an argument like that?”
“It’s impossible. Besides, I’m a master negotiator. You’re helpless to my charms Donna.”
“You didn’t seem too resistant to my charms earlier, Josh Lyman.”
“I’m a slave to your charms. In fact, allow me to prove how serving I can be.” Donna giggled as Josh kissed her earlobe. Donna slid her hands along his chest then froze.
“Your mom wasn’t here when we were……she didn’t hear us……please tell me she didn’t hear me when…….” Donna’s face flamed red and Josh thought it was absolutely adorable.
“You mean did she hear you screaming my name at the top of your lungs?” Donna looked up annoyed.
“I recall several choruses of ‘Yes, Donnatella, Yes’. “
“She came home while you were asleep.” He soothed as he pressed his hips against hers.
“I think I’ll feel more comfortable if I slept in my own room.”
“What? Why?” Josh whined.
“It just horrifies me that your mother, who I respect as much as my own, might hear us……you know.”
“At least let me present my rebuttal to your argument.” Josh purred as he traced the contour of her breast with his thumb. Swallowing the moan in the back of her throat she clutched at his biceps.
“I think this subject is still open for debate.”
“Then I’d like to present you with ‘exhibit A’ for the affirmative.” Josh’s ‘point of order’ sent a wave of desire through Donna. Seeing her resolve weaken, he started to kiss her jaw line.
“Come to bed, Donnatella.”
She slid her hands along his chest and tugged at his shirt.
“Point taken. I concede my argument.”
“God, I love it when you talk like that.”
“What else do you love, Joshua?” Donna asked playfully. Stopping his attention on her neck, he looked into her eyes.
“I love you.” Donna’s emotions caught in her throat. She fought back tears and she wrapped her arms around Josh’s neck.
“I love you.” She whispered into his neck. “I love you.”
Donna’s eyes slowly opened at the sound of Josh’s cell phone. She rolled over and smiled when his arms slid across her bare stomach. She leaned over him and grabbed the annoying device from the nightstand by the bed.
“Josh Lyman.” Her voice was thick with sleep and Sam couldn’t help but laugh.
“Good morning, Sunshine.”
“It’s after nine and you’re still in bed? Josh must have left town.” Donna grinned at Sam’s teasing and decided to do a little teasing of her own.
“No, he’s right here. Hold on.” Holding the phone next to Josh’s ear, she shook him lightly and cooed in his ear.
“Joshua. Time to get up. There’s a phone call for you.”
“Mmmm, tell them I’m busy.” Josh slid his arms around her waist and tried to pull her on top of him. Donna laughed and Sam thought he’d puke.
“It’s Sam.” Donna purred as she traced her finger along the trail of hair on his stomach.
“I should screw Sam? If you say so.” That had Josh’s full attention.
“What?! No. Stay away from Sam. I’ll kill him.” Sam rubbed at his temples. It was too early in the morning to hear conversations like that.
“JOSH!!” Sam yelled in the phone hoping to gain his friends attention. Josh grabbed the phone from Donna and yelled.
“Stay the hell away from Donna.”
“You’re an idiot. You know that right?” Josh sighed before glaring at Donna. He couldn’t maintain his irritation long. Donna tossed the sheet off of her side of the bed and stood to find something to wear. Seeing her long slender frame without a stitch of clothing caused his breath to catch in his throat and his groin to tighten.
“God, Donna.” He sighed.
“JOSH!” Sam screamed again.
“Huh?! Oh, yeah. What?”
Josh heard Sam release a frustrated sigh into the phone.
“The reason I called, I need to know what you have on McMillan and Dawkins.” Without removing the phone from his mouth, Josh yelled for Donna who had already padded down the hall to the bathroom.
“Donna!” He paused for a breath. “DONNA!” Donna glared at him as she appeared in the doorway.
“You better be glad your mother was already up. What is it?!”
“Where’s the file on 567? McMillan and Dawkins.”
“Give me the phone.” Josh handed her the phone without question. He searched the floor for his t-shirt and boxers while she talked to Sam.
“Hey. Are you in his office or yours?”
“Okay, if you’re behind his desk, look on the lower left corner under the green notebook and the purple file folder.”
“Do you need Josh again?”
“Please.” Donna thrust the phone at Josh after he pulled his t-shirt over his head.
“Hey.” Josh spoke as he rested the phone between his cheek and shoulder.
“So, you and Donna?” Josh could hear the smile on Sam’s face.
“I’m just saying, I’m glad. She makes you happy.”
“Yeah.” Josh sighed happily.
“How’s your Mom?”
“She’s good. She’s getting around well on the cast. We’re gonna go look for her a new car today.”
“When are you and Donna leaving for Disney?”
“Does everybody know about that?”
“This is the White House Josh.”
“Bring me back something.”
“I’ll do that.” Josh quipped.
“You’re not really, are you?”
“Oh sure.” The sarcasm dripped from Josh’s voice
“That’s what I thought.”
“Go back to Donna now.”
“Bye.” Josh hung up the phone and pulled Donna by the hand onto his lap. He kissed her shoulder as she laughed.
“Poor Sam? Poor me. I had a naked woman in my bed when I woke up. Now, not so much.”
“Awww. Poor Josh.” Donna bent down to capture his lips. He slid his arms tighter around her waist and shifted his hips so she could feel his desire for her. She brought her hands to his chest and gently kneaded the flesh. He kissed a path down her neck and lifted his hand to her…..
“Josh! Donna!” Josh blew out his breath as he lowered his head.
“Get dressed. I need a new car!” Donna giggled at the scowl that was affixed to Josh’s face as she extricated herself from his arms.
Donna pulled some clothes from her bag and trotted off to the shower leaving him lonely and frustrated on the edge of the bed.
“I’m exhausted.” Josh moaned as he landed on his back in the center of his bed.
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“How can you say that?! We spent five hours at car dealerships before Mom finally found the ugliest car alive.”
“It’s a Range Rover, Josh and it’s not alive.”
“It’s a box and it’s green.” Josh mumbled before raising his voice again. “Then you drag me through half the shopping malls from here to the Keys. I can’t tell you how much I envied my mother’s broken ankle in those last two hours.”
“We needed clothes. I’m not wearing the same pair of jeans three days in a row while we’re at The Magic Kingdom.” Josh didn’t bother to answer. His back hurt and he had a headache. Donna went through the shopping bags and sorted the clothes into piles to be washed. A smile played at Josh’s lips when he heard Donna start to softly hum to herself.
“Jiminy Cricket?” Josh asked with amusement.
“Maybe.” Donna grinned as she cut the tags off a pair of Josh’s shorts.
“You always hum when you work.” He stated.
“I guess it’s habit.”
“You hum the theme from ‘The Muppet Show’ when you’re in a good mood.”
“And when I’m in a bad mood?” She asked with her back leaning up against the bed as she sat on the floor.
“You don’t hum.”
“I’d think my humming would get on your nerves when we’re trying to work.”
“It always calms me down when we’re working at night or on something urgent.”
“I didn’t know you paid me that close attention.” She said with a laugh. Josh rolled over to his side and rested his hand on the top of her head.
“You have no idea how long I’ve been in love with you, have you?” Donna stopped and slowly turned to face him.
“Try four years.” He laughed as she smiled at him.
“You a touch slow, huh?”
“Better late than never.” She leaned forward and kissed him softly on the cheek.
“What’s going to happen once we get back to DC?”
“What do you want to happen?” Before Josh filtered his thoughts, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
“We get married, move your stuff into my townhouse, have a couple kids then move to Connecticut after our term is up. Shit, I said all that out loud.”
“Yes you did.” She stared at him in amazement.
“You can run screaming from the room at anytime. I’ll understand.”
“Where will we put my hope chest? It was my grandmother’s so I don’t want it shoved in your back bedroom somewhere covered in back issues of Newsweek.”
“OUR back bedroom and we can move that bench in OUR bedroom and put it there.”
“This is getting kinda scary.” Donna grinned.
“A little. But oddly enough, I’m perfectly calm about the idea.”
“Which is what I find the most scary.”
“What do you want to do for dinner?” Josh was used to Donna’s lightning subject changes so he didn’t skip a beat.
“Let’s ask Mom if she has plans. She might have to catch a crap game somewhere with Bernie and the girls.”
“Maybe we can take her new car. It handles really well.”
“I’m driving this time. You’re a menace behind the wheel.”
“You’re mother didn’t complain when I drove it home from the dealership.”
“Probably too petrified to speak. I was behind you remember? Do you have an aversion to turn signals?”
up.” Josh laughed and pulled her into an embrace.
She took a deep breath and sighed against his chest.
Thoughts of waking up with Josh in their home to the sound of their
children settled in her mind. She
squeezed him a little tighter as a wide smile settled across her features.
Donna frowned as she stood in front of her suitcase with her hands on her hips.
”What? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t have my camera.” Josh stepped behind her and smiled at the mixture of his and her clothes in the suitcase.
“We’ll buy one of those disposable ones.” Donna turned in his arms and grinned at the look on his face.
“What’s that little smile for?”
“Our stuff’s in the same suitcase.”
“I put all our work clothes in your garment bag and all our causal stuff in my suitcase. That way we only have one suitcase to deal with. The other can stay in the car until we fly home. You don’t mind do you?”
“Not at all. It’s still a little weird getting used to you in my life.”
“I’ve been in your life for five and half years.”
“But now we’re in it together.” He leaned forward and kissed her nose.
“Have you always been this sweet?”
“Then why haven’t I seen this sooner?”
“Well, it better stick around. I’d hate to have to smack you around.”
“A little tough love, Donnatella?” Donna rolled her eyes at Josh’s suggestive tone.
“You’re such a pervert.”
“All part of the charm.”
“How many parts to the Lyman Charm again?”
“Too many to mention. It’s a multi-faceted type of charm.”
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay here alone?” Josh worried.
“I’m fine. I’ve got Bernice and Cloe and Mr. Petrillo next door to look in on me.”
“Don’t try to drive.”
Amelia sighed and rolled her eyes at her son while Donna looked on in amusement.
“I know sweetheart. I’m just going to sit in my rocker and crochet.”
“Have a good time at Disney. Don’t drive too fast and stop if you start getting tired.” Amelia pulled Donna into a warm hug and then turned to Josh.
be good to her or I’ll come to DC and spank your butt.”
”Yes ma’am.” Josh smirked as he hugged his mother. She pulled some drinks from the fridge and handed them to Donna.
“For the trip. Here’s some crackers too. Joshua always liked to snack on long car rides.”
“I know.” Donna smiled as she took the bag of goodies from Amelia.
“Bye Mom. We’ll call to make sure you’re getting along okay. You have the number to the hotel?”
“Donna printed me out a full itinerary.”
“We have an itinerary?” He asked Donna. Her only response was to roll her eyes. “Oh yeah, look who I’m asking.”
“Bye dear, I’ll talk to you next week.” Josh led Donna down the walk as Amelia waved from the door of the condo.
As Josh changed lanes on I-95, he looked over at Donna in the passenger seat. She had her sunglasses on and the wind was blowing her hair across her forehead. The top was down and it was a beautiful day. He smiled to himself as she sang along to an oldies song on the radio. She casually rested her arm on the seat and played with the curls at the base of his neck as she watched the scenery go by. They were going to Disney World, The Happiest Place on Earth. But to Josh, he’d found the happiest place. Where ever Donna was. In the comfortable silence he thought how stupid he had been to waste all those years being afraid of his feelings and trying to convince himself that he loved someone else. If it hadn’t been for an unfortunate, but thankfully minor accident, they may have never figured it out. Or would they? Maybe he and Donna would have come to the same conclusion over time. Perhaps their destiny was just waiting on the appropriate catalyst. But that didn’t really matter now. He had confessed his feelings and she had confirmed hers in return. This was Donna, his assistant, his partner, his best friend and his love. She was his anchor, his confidant, his conscience and his constant source of strength. He looked over his shoulder to merge into another lane and she offered him a smile. He knew what he wanted now and he was confident she wanted the same. He’d marry her tomorrow if she’d let him, but he knew they’d wait a while longer. Long enough for him to pick out the perfect ring that will make her cry when she sees it. They’d make all the plans and stand up in front of all their friends and family. They’d vow to love and cherish what they have and pray for a lifetime of happiness. Donna would keep him sane and he would keep her safe. They’d leave the White House and work on a new life that involved children and time spent with those they cherished most. The sign marking the miles left to Disney passed them on the right and Donna shook him on the arm with excitement. The thrill and innocent joy made his heart flutter in his chest. He knew the feeling would never fade. He had found it and he refused to let it go. As he took her by the hand, he sent up a silent prayer of thanks. Donna kissed his fingertips and closed her eyes at the feel of his touch. He would still get on her nerves and she would still exhaust him. She would never let his ego get too far and he would still send her flowers in April. But now they would have more things to share and it made them happy. After all, love is a many splendid thing.
feedback is appreciated. :)